I finished the dress… at last.

It has been sitting on the rack under my ironing board, cut out and waiting to go, since, um… probably 6 months ago.

blue dressI got sick of picking it up off the floor every time it slid off the rack, which was often. I wanted another dress. It was a bit of a no-brainer, really. It’s a very simple pattern I’ve made before, but this time I decided to do something about the bits I didn’t like.

I don’t like facings to finish off necklines and armholes; they’re too bulky, they never lie flat and they make ironing the garment a pain because they leave a ridge. So, away with the facing! I finished the edges with narrow bias binding, stitched down with a decorative stitch on the neckline and plain topstitching for the armholes.

I also didn’t like the original armholes, which were too snug. I have very wide shoulders, and needed extra space in the back and front so the edge of the armhole doesn’t cut in when I reach across. So, deepen and widen the armholes. I wanted pockets. Every garment that hangs below the waist needs pockets. Where else are you supposed to put your hankie, phone, key, small change or whatever else it is you otherwise have to temporarily hold in your hand? So, patch pockets, not the kind that go in the side seam and make you grope for the opening and eventually tear when you put something too heavy in them. A bit more decorative stitching on the top edge there, too. I wore it yesterday, and it’s very, very comfortable, and dresses up nicely with a bit of jewellery or perhaps a cardigan when the weather gets cooler.

Now that I’ve adjusted the pattern, I’ll definitely be making it again. I wonder how it would look with a slightly more fitted bodice and a high waisted skirt gathered onto it. It may need a front opening if I do that. I also like the idea of some tiny beading for a neck detail.

neck detailMiss Rosita (my tailor’s dummy) was delighted to be put to work at last. She feels that the dress fabric sets off her red plush person very well, and agrees the armholes are more comfortable this way. I had trouble getting her to take the dress off…

I’m just pleased to have reduced my dress-making pile (only three more items to go – for now, anyway, we won’t talk about the large box full of lovely dress fabrics and unused patterns), and got myself a nice new dress into the bargain. Now, the ‘swoopy shirt’ Liberty fabric and pattern are calling my name…

And with the temperature now hovering around 27°C during the day and cooler at night, it’s perfect sleeveless dress wearing weather, and the dress’ll look good with a t-shirt underneath too 🙂


51 thoughts on “I finished the dress… at last.

  1. Lynda says:

    Loving the idea of bias tape and the decorative stitching to hold it in place! I too would appreciate those pockets… and I confess, I have a box of fabrics and patterns that have yet to be made. Time to get to work!

    • katechiconi says:

      I find the prep is the worst bit. Once you’ve pressed and cut out the pattern and the fabric and added all the tailor’s marks and fiddled about changing bits, I’m more or less over it for a while. I need to concentrate on smaller projects while my back is still killing me, or I’ll get frustrated or make stupid mistakes.

  2. Lovely. Infinitely repeatable. I’m with you on facings, but prefer my pockets to be concealed in the side seams.

    I hope the back is being a bit kinder to you now.

    • katechiconi says:

      The dress is wonderfully comfortable and well fitting, unlike my back. It’s over a week now, and no noticeable improvement. Tiring, and boring.

      • Do you have a TENS machine? First resource from every physiotherapist I have ever met. I got mine from the big river. The other soother is to lie in a warm bath reading for half an hour!

      • katechiconi says:

        The bath would have been my first port of call, but in this house it is a strangely tiny one, allowing one to sit upright only, and leaving the majority of one’s person dangling out in the cool air if you try to lie down. I do have a TENS unit somewhere. I shall try and unearth it.

  3. norma says:

    Very pretty dress. I usually go for bias binding rather than facings; I agree that it looks much better.
    As for pockets, I’m going to say something shocking – I don’t put them in unless it’s a coat or something. I used to have saggy pockets full of stuff now I’m marginally sleeker.

  4. You mentioned a cardigan. If you can stretch to that, you can stretch to wearing it with boots, too.

  5. tialys says:

    Don’t you feel better for getting it finished?
    Be careful with the high waisted gathered skirt attached to a fitted bodice – I’ve found that’s not always a flattering shape. Can you go into a shop and try the style out before committing yourself to making one perhaps?

    • katechiconi says:

      If I could find one in a shop, I would, but everything on sale in the shops features the waist I lack – and for the most part, so do all the dress patterns. I’m not after a maternity effect, more something like the Pinterest link below, only less wrinkly!

    • katechiconi says:

      I love the fabric, it’s got body, a slight sheen, and the pattern is so pretty. Plus it finishes beautifully, with a nice crisp edge and not too much fraying. And now I’ve fiddled with the pattern, I can see myself making loads more!

  6. Grannymar says:

    I agree Kate, the prep is the worst bit, but well worth it. I find when the prep is done I hesitate to begin the sewing and often leave it for a day or two before settling down at the machine and losing myself in joining the jigsaw of pieces. Your dress looks wonderful. Good health to wear.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s pretty and flattering on, so it helps to distract from the fact that the health part is not so flash…

      • Grannymar says:

        I feel your pain, I saw my cardiologist last week – more tests – and spent a morning in eye casualty this week. But I managed to finish the border on my corner to corner crochet blanket. I hope to post a pic on Wednesday.

      • katechiconi says:

        I’m seeing the oncologist tomorrow for my regular checkup, and shall ask her if this inexplicable and persistent back pain is anything to worry about. It’s a week now, with absolutely no improvement…

      • Grannymar says:

        best to have it checked out. I will think of you tonight – your tomorrow and hope all goes well.

      • katechiconi says:

        Thank you. I don’t think she’ll have any magic wands, but perhaps some further investigations rather than just pills would be good. I have always before me the spectre of my mother, who had the all clear after 6 years cancer free, only to develop a pain in her back and side. It was the beginning of the end.

  7. The prepping and cutting do take time. I generally cut one day or two if there’s a lot. I’ve found that if I do all my cutting and pressing the interfacings to the facings and put each cut pattern into a plastic bag so each one stays together it makes the sewing go quicker. I don’t like bias facings for some garments because sometimes they don’t lay as they should. Sometimes a facing is better. It really depends on the type of garment. Your dress is pretty and the bias neckline turned out well. The dress I made today has a bias neckline also.
    Hope your back is better very soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      In this climate, I like solutions that reduce the layers of a garment, hence the bias binding finishes. For something more structured, I’d consider lining it, but polyester taffeta is unbearable in the heat, so it would need to be silk! For now, I’ll stick with simple shapes and structures 🙂

      • Lorij says:

        A light weight cotton makes a good lining. The dress that I made looks a lot like the one in the picture but, mine has a short sleeve on it. It is pink with butterflies on it. And, I’ve lost weight somewhere along the way so now I need to make an inch dart in both shoulder seams so that it will stay up on my shoulders. It is so comfortable

  8. claire93 says:

    I love your dress Kate and entirely agree that simple is best, especially for the hot weather. Easy to wear, easy to wash & iron ^^

  9. It looks fresh and comfortable and DONE!! Congrats on the finish of something so pleasing to wear.

  10. I love the line and color and it looks so comfy. I have a pattern for something similar but just never quite get there. Too many things ahead of it in the line of to do. I was curious about how you joined the bias binding on a dress vs a quilt? I’ve never done it on a dress and I never wear sleeveless without something over. Old arms. You’ve never mentioned chiropractic care for your back so I assume it’s not something you consider. But you are right to check in with the oncologist first. I’ll keep good thoughts for you.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have a bias binding maker, where you feed in a strip and it creases in the folds for you, but in this case I just used commercial white binding. Stitch along one fold line, trim back the seam allowance, fold in, pin down and top stitch, either plain or decorative. My own arms are not what they were, but are not too bad, no bingo wings here yet! I used to be a great fan of chiropractic till one day I visited my chiropractor for a very painful neck. He hurt me so badly my screams emptied his waiting room and I have never dared try it again… It may be that eventually I’ll have to try again, but my reluctance after the last time is very great…

      • Do you have chiropractors that use an activator there. It’s gentle manipulation. My son calls them quackapractors because you just hear a sound and it doesn’t feel like they are doing anything. But it works as well. http://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/activator-method-chiropractic-technique
        I have osteoporosis so I have to be careful. I took my mom to mine and he was the one that diagnosed the tumor under her ribs. Not her doctor. I won’t go to any other kind anymore. Thanks for the information about the binding.

      • katechiconi says:

        Yes, he used to use an activator too, but this time it was the old quick neck twist to one side, and I had to be scraped off the ceiling. We each have our own preferences….

      • Sorry to hear about that. Don’t think he was very good. Never had that happen. The last one I went to was a neurologist/chiropractor. He told me not to let them touch my neck. He was the best I ever saw and helped a lot but I ran out of insurance and money after my divorce. I still don’t let anyone touch my neck.

  11. dayphoto says:

    Cute! I’ll bet you look darling in it!


  12. great fabric for this dress and what with the lovely weather you have this is perfect !

  13. Magpie Sue says:

    I love to wear simple dresses these days that hang from the shoulder. Too bad I have less than zero interest in making my own. Intellectually I know it’s a very straightforward process, it’s just not a process I enjoy at all!

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s a pity… three long seams, two short, a bit of zigzag to finish the raw edges, a double fold hem and some bias bound edges. Job done, no need to go shopping. My kinda result – I hate clothes shopping with a passion.

  14. Debbierose says:

    Miss Rosetta is very stylish. Very nice comfy dress.

  15. pattisj says:

    Pretty! You’re right about pockets. Congrats on finishing!

  16. Pretty! I am continuing to ignore my old and forgotten dressmaking projects. I know I shouldn’t, but I haven’t the drive for them right now.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m the opposite. Having finished this nice dress which is so comfortable I keep putting it straight back on virtually out of the washing machine, I’ve (finally) cut out the top I wanted to make from the lovely Michael Miller Tiny Picks fabric you gave me. Mind you, I did spend half the afternoon tweaking the pattern to get the armholes the right depth, the darts in the right place and the length short enough!

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